NAESP History

The National Association of Elementary School Principals was founded in 1921 by a group of principals who sought to promote their profession and to provide a national forum for their ideas.

Building a Rich History

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) was founded in 1921 by a group of principals who sought to promote their profession and to provide a national forum for their ideas. The group of 51 elementary school principals—34 women and 17 men—gathered at the historic Chalfonte Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to plan a new organization for principals. They were a small group with a big vision—to help the nation’s schools by “raising the standards of professional services they rendered.”

In the 1930s, NAESP launched The National Elementary Principal, which would eventually become Principal magazine. NAESP also began to move beyond its early focus on defining the administrator’s role and status to include a consideration of related issues, such as community relations, controversies in educational standards and approaches, and other topics. Toward the end of the 1930s, the organization began to offer additional services, notably a two-week summer workshop dedicated to enhancing principals’ professional skills.

In the 1950s, NAESP had grown substantially and continued to press for professional recognition, to advocate for improvements in salaries and working conditions, and to provide resources and support services to its members. In the 1980s and 1990s, NAESP focused on outreach to corporate, public, and private organizations to further the association’s goals. Now with headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, NAESP continues to build on this strong foundation while working to advance the profession into the future.